In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic making life unbearable for students supposedly ‘relaxing’ during online school, came a news update about the controversial organisation ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.) that brought the dreams of numerous students to a standstill. Last week, ICE determined that international students attending universities in the US, that are currently doing the entire semester online, must leave the country or risk deportation.

To make a very long story very short, this sucks for a majority of Indian students. Including me.

While there is an exception for ‘hybrid’ schools teaching both online and in-person, uncertainty hangs the future of many students who have to now leave prestigious institutions like Harvard University (that has transitioned wholly to online learning). They may not be in a financial position to afford a transfer to a hybrid or an in-person school. If they’re from countries with travel restrictions, where will they even go? If they don’t have good internet connectivity back home, what will they do?

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  • ICE announced a few days ago that international students have to leave the US or risk deportation if their schools have shifted to online learning entirely.
  • This has pushed the future of many bright students studying abroad towards uncertainty.
  • Where will students even go, if their native countries have out up travel bans due to COVID-19?

“This is going to create I think more anxiety on the part of international students, and for those who are still thinking about where they’re going to go in the fall, I think this may push them in the direction of attending a university in another country,” Brad Farnsworth, Vice President of the American Council on Education, told CNN.

He’s quite right. As an international high school applicant who is applying to multiple US Universities for financial aid, the prospects of getting in, despite meeting and excelling beyond qualification requirements, are lower than ever. As a close friend 0f mine stated this afternoon, Bro, now competition for Ashoka is going to be wild ya.” Great.

This is just one of the many things ICE has royally messed up for anyone who isn’t rich and white.

They’ve put immigrant children in cages and detainment camps separated them from their parents. At the Adelanto Detention Center, reports are emerging of ICE spraying a powerful chemical disinfectant called HDQ Neutral that is allegedly causing bloody noses, nausea and breathing difficulty. People who are protesting in the streets are being pepper sprayed or attacked by rubber bullets. Do I really want to pursue an education in a country protected by monsters? Honestly, it’s shameful that we’re just caring about this now- as one of my seniors rightfully pointed out, “Acha, so now that they’re scamming privileged international students, people are willing to f*** ICE. I’ve been in Boston for a year, and I’ve been saying it since.”

Read Also: As Restrictions Start Easing, Students Wonder If It Is Safe To Travel Home

Old fat unclejis who watch Fox News to look at the anchor’s cleavage and make wild claims about the joys of Trump’s presidency are suddenly not isolated concerns for Indian teens. For anyone looking to apply to the US, this spells trouble for your future. Many students build heavily padded, impressive resumes calibrated around what American universities like- extracurriculars and work experience, allowing them eases on their grades. However, universities in Singapore and the UK don’t care about anything but your grades- so how will you apply? This justifies the opinion of another senior of mine, “LMAO, where are you going to go now? School is notorious for undercutting our predicted grades- how will y’all get in anywhere. Anyways if you come here also, it sucks only.

If the pandemic eases up, the presidency changes, and I can still study in the US, as a woman of colour will I ever be truly safe? I probably won’t.

And while these unprecedented times have heralded trouble and confusion for students adjusting to the terrors of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, suddenly pretending that our internet doesn’t work isn’t the only solution to our problems anymore. Our seniors, who’ve just graduated, are stuck here- wondering if the crores of rupees their parents have invested in their academic careers have disappeared forever. My parents, who want me to live abroad in a country that is ‘safer’ for women, now question my decision to apply to a country with two Presidential candidates getting away almost scot-free with sexual assault charges.

As multiple universities in the US face an extremely heavy loss in revenue and academic standing if their international students are ‘exiled,’ the Ivies and UCs are leading all the other colleges in suing the US government legally to counter this new policy. While it helps, it’s not the point- what matters is abolishing ICE. In their proclamations, there’s a recent overuse of the word ‘pandemic’ as an excuse for furthering their agenda and harsh policies on expelling immigrants. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic, considering that historically, the USA is a country built on the concept of immigration, and that white people aren’t exactly natives to it. So now, Columbus’s ‘Indians’ and the ones sitting with Macbooks in Mumbai are all in trouble.

I don’t see a way out of this mess, vaccine, or no vaccine. It’s not just COVID-19 that needs to be ‘cured’ but this ridiculous, narrow and counterintuitive mindset. We will just have to wait until the US loses the millions in revenue that it earns from international students and comes back to its senses.

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The views expressed are the author’s own.

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